For veterans who are fascinated with the wild blue yonder, or look beyond to the planets in space, aerospace may be a good industry in which to stake out a career. Below are a number of civilian positions in aerospace that might be a good fit for veterans.
|Job Title||Median Wage (2016)*||Job Growth (2016-2026)*||Applicable Military Skills/Traits|
|Aerospace Engineers||$109,650||6%||Security clearance, experience with missiles or aircraft|
|Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians||$60,270||5%||Experience repairing aircraft|
|Electro-Mechanical Technicians||$55,610||4%||Testing and diagnostic experience, security clearance|
|Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians||$68,020||7%||Security clearance and hands-on experience with missiles and other technology|
|Materials Engineers||$93,310||2%||Active duty experience in analysis, research, or laboratory|
|Avionics Technicians||$60,760||6%||Experience with missiles and targeting systems|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Civilian Aerospace Jobs for Veterans
The aerospace industry includes satellite communications, air transportation, and civilian air travel, not to mention civilian development of military aircraft. There are careers in this field for many veterans, from repair technicians to engineers. Military experience and security clearance may give veterans an advantage in this industry.
Veterans with an aptitude in mathematics and physics may find that becoming an aerospace engineer is a sound career choice. For those who thrive on defining and conquering the details, as well as big-picture thinking, this could be a suitable career. Military experience as an officer, data analyst, or technician could be good launch points for this career.
Aircraft, rockets, missiles, and satellites are all designed by aerospace engineers. They dream, plan, develop, and build planes that fly and satellites that orbit. They may work on either civilian or military projects at civilian-run companies. The field is wide-open, encompassing fighter jets, passenger planes, and helicopters. This position requires mathematical aptitude, engineering talent, and a bachelor's degree.
Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians
For those veterans who enjoy maintaining and repairing equipment, particularly aircraft, this could be an ideal role. Veterans who performed active duty services as repairmen or mechanics have a particular advantage, particularly if their working hours can be counted toward required Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certifications.
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians perform regularly scheduled maintenance on aircraft. They are skilled at inspection, performing required tests, and maintenance as required. This may include fuel-line maintenance, navigation maintenance, mechanical systems maintenance, and more. This position requires an associate's degree and FAA certification.
Veterans who have experience working with electric motors, power generation systems, communications, targeting systems, or instrument repair may find that this position provides a way into the aerospace industry.
Electro-mechanical technicians work with both electrical systems and mechanical equipment. The combination of the two meet at robotics and automation. These technicians work within the aerospace industry on projects requiring automation and electric motors with moving parts. Electro-mechanical technicians also work on unmanned vehicles, commonly referred to as drones. To join this field an associate's degree is required.
Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians
For those veterans who have a preference for testing and prototypes, this can be a good career choice. Veterans with technical repair experience and computer skills may do best. Technical work with precision instruments, lasers, optics, and communications may also be helpful.
Technicians in this field participate in building and testing prototypes of aircraft, missiles, and rockets. They maintain and operate the testing equipment, which can be extensive and complex. As computer modeling is becoming more sophisticated much of the testing has been moved to simulations, and this is becoming increasingly important in the field. These technicians will need an associate's degree.
Veterans interested in physics and chemistry may find materials engineering worthwhile. Those who have worked with computer modeling, data analysis, or laboratory work may find that it is a good fit. Security clearance can be particularly helpful.
The role of the materials engineer is to develop new materials, such as a new plastic, or stronger glass, ceramic tiles that don't break, or a new metal composite, among thousands of other possibilities. They also test materials to determine stress under different environments and to discover new uses for known materials. It is a field that requires a bachelor's degree.
Veterans with technical skills with radio, telemetry, optics, sensors, navigation and targeting equipment may want to take a look at avionics technician as a future career. A bachelor's degree is required and experience with avionics systems is helpful. This career is well-suited for veterans involved in technical repair of all types of aircraft and communications systems.
The complex systems on aircraft, missiles, rockets, and satellites are the responsibility of avionics technicians. They perform inspections and maintenance and repairs as necessary. They work on many different types of systems, though broadly speaking most involve targeting and communications at the most basic level.